Information about getting to Bardia National Park

Due to its remote location Bardia is quite far away from the main transport hubs of Nepal. However, it is possible to reach Bardia by bus, car or a combination of both. Or you could fly there.

Buses going to Bardia
Typical bus going to Bardia

Bardia National Park is one of the premier wildlife regions in the world today. With wild Royal Bengal tigers, elephants, and rhinos being relatively easy to see. In 1982, the area was officially named the Royal Bardia Wildlife Reserve. In 1984, it was joined by  the Babai Valley, which together is what we have today.


Bardia contains  countless deer, who are the  primary source of food for the tiger population. While river fish are a major source of food for the 250+ types of birds found in the area.


Here is my full online guide to Bardia National Park. Meanwhile, the rest of this page will deal with transport to Bardia.                    

Bardia, Thakurdwara or Ambassa?

Bardia National Park and Ambassa are beside each other. Chitwan is the huge jungle where treks and jungle safaris take place.

Ambassa is the small roadside stopping point directly outside of the National park. This is where most buses stop to let people off. From here, you go to Thakurdwara.

Thakurdwara is the nearest village to Bardia National Park. It's about a 40-minute drive from Ambassa. The village contains a few shops, cafes, and a bus stop that goes to/from Kathmandu. There's a small temple here, and the road south leads to most of the resorts.

How to get from Kathmandu to Bardia/Ambassa

How to fly to Bardia National Park from Kathmandu

The nearest airport to Bardia National Park is Nepalgunj Airport in Banke district of the Bheri zone in Nepal. The flight takes about 50 minutes. From here, you have to take a bus or Jeep to Bardia, which is 3 hours away (5,000 rupees).

Plane tickets to Nepalgunj are available from nearly all travel agencies in Kathmandu. Flights run daily depending on numbers. Off-season flights are frequently postponed until the next day. Prices are approximately USD $200.

How to take a bus from Kathmandu to Bardia National Park

Bus travel to Bardia is by far the most preferred method. There are several options. The two most popular are to take a bus to Ambassa or directly to Thakurdwara.

Thakurdwara gates where the bus will drop you
Thakurdwara gates where the bus will drop you

The direct bus to Thakurdwara started in 2018 and leaves from Kathmandu's Gongabu bus park. Book the day before. Departures are usually around 4-5pm. Ticket prices are about 1700 rupees. This bus can be canceled on occasion. This bus has a little more seat room than the other types of bus.

The more common type of bus leaves from Gongabu at more regular times from 1pm to late to Mahendranagar. So it's important you ask for Mahendranagar but then tell them you will get off at Ambassa. The cost is about 1,200 rupees. Again, you need to book a seat the day before.

Journey time to Bardia is about 13 hours in both cases.

Both buses stop during the night for food and toilet breaks. They usually arrive between 4am-5am (so it helps to have someone waiting for you). Please see below important details about arriving in Ambassa.

Private Jeep to Bardia

You could hire a private jeep and driver to take you to Bardia. It will likely cost in excess of USD $250, give or take the odd fuel crisis.

Fly to Nepalgunj and then take a jeep/bus to Bardia National Park

You can fly from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj (40 mins) for about USD $125. However, flights are not always regular. Buddha Air runs one of the more favored routes.

From Nepalgunj, your resort will often offer to pick you up (for a price of USD $50-70) for the 3-hour journey.

You can also take a bus from Nepalgunj to Thakurdwara for about 100-150 rupees, which takes about 3-4 hours. However, do note that buses depart only around 11am and at 2.30pm. Otherwise, you can take a more regular bus from Nepalgunj to Mahendranagar and get off at Ambassa.


How to get from Pokhara to Bardia/Ambassa

How to fly to Bardia National Park from Pokhara

Currently, there are no direct flights from Pokhara to Nepalgunj. You would have to fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu and then to Nepalgunj.

How to take a bus from Pokhara to Bardia National Park

Daily buses from Pokhara to Mahendranagar (near Ambassa) leave from Pokhara's old bus park at 3pm. The journey time is 12-14 hours. Tickets are best bought in person the day before. They cost about 1,400 rupees.

There are buses leaving from Mahendranagar later at night, but they are not as comfortable and have frequent stops.

There are no direct buses from Pokhara to Thakurdwara.

How to get from Lumbini to Bardia

If you are visiting Lumbini and are okay with local transport then you could shave some time of your visit to Bardia by starting from here.

How to take a bus from Lumbini to Bardia/Ambassa

From Lumbini Bazaar you will need to get to Bhairahawa bus park. At Bhairahawa take a bus going to Butwal (3 hours) From Butwal there are many daily buses to. Mahendranagar but drop at Ambassa. The journey time is about 8-9 hours.

How to get from Ambassa bus stop to Bardia

Most buses will stop en route to Mahendranagar at Ambassa at about 4am, so it will be dark.

Sadly, in 2024, there were reports of bus drivers dropping people off long before the gates to Thakurdwara, and then a couple of local drivers show up as your "only choice" in getting to Thakurdwara. If you have not pre-booked, this can be problematic, so insist that A) you are dropped in the correct location. B) in case you are dropped somewhere else, insist that you are taken to the gates. Otherwise, keep reading here for more tips.

You will only have a few choices here, so plan ahead.

Prebook a pickup from a resort. This is the most popular choice. If you prebook a pickup, then there will be someone there to meet you no matter the time you arrive. Before departing for Bardia, they will ask you for your bus company name and seat number. It's helpful to have a Nepalese SIM card to stay in touch with them, but not necessary.

Arrive and find a lift: There are usually people at the bus stop every morning from resorts offering lifts. But this is not a guarantee, neither is the type or standard of the resort. In all cases, they will be wanting you to stay with them. Bargain hard, try to find their resort on a map first. Agree on a price to Bardia National Park before setting off. Keep in mind it will be around 4am.

With the second option, you do not need to stay at the resort the driver comes from. Prices are usually 800 rupees for a motorbike lift or 1000 rupees for a jeep lift. The journey time is about 40 minutes.

It is not advisable to try and walk to Thakurdwara due to dangerous wildlife in the area. There is a local bus from Ambassa to Thakurdwara, but it's not regular and is only twice a day. The new bridge that crosses the river has made the journey a little faster, but be careful as vehicles speed here.

If you only get a lift to Thakurdwara and want to visit some resorts before staying in one, keep in mind that the resorts are spread out. If you have heavy luggage, this is highly impractical. If you just have a light day bag, then you could just about manage it so long as you have the location of some good resorts close to each other. These are listed in my guidebook to Bardia. Otherwise, feel free to contact me for the name of the resort I stayed at to pick you up.

Download my full guidebook to Bardia National Park

Are you looking to discover more about Bardia National Park? Look no further as I've written the most comprehensive travel guide to Bardia!

Grab your copy of the Bardia Guidebook here, or enjoy it as part of the comprehensive Nepal guidebook available here.

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